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Shalom. The key to the question can be found in Moses' commission in Exodus 3:9-12. His commission was to get the children of Israel out of Egypt worshipping God in the holy mountain as testimony of God's being with him. Getting them to Canaan would have been a bonus as we can see in Numbers 20:12. God is sovereign striking the rock is not the only major act of disobedience by Moses but others were overlooked. The lesson we should learn from the account is that our Christian race is a relay race in which we are on different legs and different lanes. Handing the batons to the next in leg without crossing to a lane that is not our calling. May God make His word alive in us IJN. Amen
To add, the children of Israel looked up to Moses (except when they grumbled against him and God). Moses would have been seen as the greatest in the camp of the children of Israel. Indeed he was great. However, when he struck the rock instead of speaking to the rock, he disobeyed God. Although the children got their water, they witnessed that they had received what they wanted even if it was gained through direct disobedience. God had already spoken that the penalty was death to whoever disobeyed His commandment(s). Even someone as great as Moses wasn't exempt from the penalty of sin and death! So, if Moses were "let off the hook" of the punishment for disobedience, then God would be saying that He (God) is a liar and doesn't follow His own judgment. It defied God's character to lie about the consequences of disobedience. God would have been viewed as a liar and weak, both of which were wrong. It did not testify as to who was God, what His character is and who ruled everytime. God is truth! John 14:6 God made sure that the children of Israel would know that it didn't matter who you were, great or small, you would be judged by the Almighty. Therefore, Moses, even though he had a reputation of being "great" among man, could not escape God's judgment. The judgment against sin applied to everyone. The people, once they witnessed this, would truly understand "the fear of the Lord." By fearing God and bowing to Him only, we all are less tempted to walk in disobedience. Because we learn and know to fear God, then we should understand that we desperately need something from God - mercy and grace. In summary, everyone, from great to small all have sinned. All fall short of what God commands and expects from man ("... be holy as I am holy"). Leviticus 11:45, Leviticus 19:2, Leviticus 20:26, Ephesians 1:4, Ephesians 5:27, 1 Peter 1:16 All (great to small) fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23 All (great to small) need God's grace to save them, even Moses.
While it is true that Moses, in a moment of frustration with the people, lost his temper, this was not, in my opinion, a "death sentence" sin like I've heard it preached all my life. Moses is the one who recorded the conversation he had with the Lord and tells us that the Lord allowed him to view the promised land from a distance but would not allow him to go over, and he saw it as a form of punishment. Other than going back to Egypt or taking on a new assignment from Jehovah what was to happen to him? If his being denied the PRIVILEDGE of going over the Jordan was strictly punishment then part of the punishment was the loss of his life. I don't believe that to be the case. It would seem that Moses had EARNED the RIGHT to enter the promised land and we are taught that NOT to be the way the Lord wants us to understand His free gift of life. I don't believe he was being punished but God used him to teach us about entering into His rest. There was plenty of work left to be done and Moses was given his rest (Jos 1:13, 1Chr 23:25) from his years of service is the way I understand it to teach us. Moses made many mistakes, this is one of many that sinners make. Moses told us the account and he felt like he was being punished but I believe there's much more to it than that. The bible teaches spiritual principles instead of a history lesson on sin.
I got this from the believer's bible commentary: Moses represents Law, which can never get you the promise. (Eternal life/Salvation) Law can only show your need for it. Hosea's name was changed to Joshua. Joshua is Hebrew for Jesus and means the Lord saves. Only Jesus can provide the promise. Moses, the Law cannot.
Moses' sin was not trusting in Yahveh enough to honor Him as holy before the people. Yahveh was not angry, but Moses was angry with the people for desiring water. He is a holy Father who knows how to give good things to His children. Water was needed, Yahveh instructed Moses to provide, not represent Him as an angry God because people needed water. Likewise, when we serve Yahveh's people, we must be careful to serve with love and mercy. Then we will represent Yahveh correctly, because we will be honoring Him before His people. Yeshua said, "When I was hungry, you fed Me" Matthew 25:35-40 Even though He knew that some only followed Him for food, Yeshua did not send Yahveh's people away hungry. He feed them. Matthew 14:13-21 The Lord was displeased with Moses' actions: "Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them" (Numbers 20:12).
After the rebellious people are congregated, Moses' anger causes him to shout, "Do we have to bring you water from this rock?" He disobeys the Lord's command and hits the rock twice. The water still comes out, but Moses pays a sad price for his disobedience: he cannot bring the people into the Promised Land.
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